<br /> Lee Letter: n648

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Potts
Recipient: Thomas Sim Lee

Dr Sir,

I wish I could by this post give you any authentic Information of our
Affairs to the south, but Congress have received no Letters from either
commanding Officers in that Department for many days. Reports from
thence pass through Maryland, and these Approach nearer to truth in
proportion to their Vicinity to the Scene of Operations. Those are the
only Source of this days Intelligence. Congress have had before them a
number of Official Letters from the Ministry in Brittain to their
Commander in Chief, and other Heads of Departments in America, these
were intercepted in a packet taken in Europe and transmitted by Mr.
Jay.1 From the Letters of Lord Germaine to
Sir Henry Clinton &ca. it appears that the Expectation of a speedy
Conquest was fully impressed on the Brittish Cabinet, and that
administartion already regretted their proffered Clemency through their
Commissioners held out in their proclamations. He observes to General
Clinton and the other Commissioners that their Offers of pardon were
not suffciently guarded with Exceptions, and that the Supplicants for
pardon being readmitted to a full Enjoyment of the Rights exercised
under their former Connection was more than Government ever intended to
grant. Or in other Words that they meant to deprive them of their
Charters and constitute their Governments more to the Will of the
Parliament. He expresses much Satisfaction at the General’s Information
that there were more provincials in his Majestys Service in America
than that of the United States, but laments the mortifying reflection
that under those Circumstances the Rebellion should have continued so
long. His Lordship apprehends General Clinton’s Generosity in
recommending so many of the provincial Choirs [Corps] to be put upon
the Brittish Establishment and then secure of Victory, gives such a
Construction to his Majestys directions on that Subject as to restrict
the Benefits of it to very few.

These Instances serve to shew, if it remained to be proved, what would be
the treatment of the friends to America in it, if his, Germaine’s
imaginary Ideas of Success were to be realised. No sooner had they any
foundation for such a Hope, than they begin […] to estimate the
Value, and regret the Loss of Estates secured under former Submissions;
and wish to discharge from their Service without the Rewards held out
formerly, those whom they have seduced to be instrumental in
accomplishing their supposed Conquests. Lord Germaine speaks of the
Carolinas & Georgia as totally reduced, and has no doubt but that
Virginia must immediately yield to the Activity & Enterprise of
Lord Cornwallis supported by so powerful an Army. His Lordship speaks
of an Expedition which had been projected against our Bay, approves of
it and urges General Clinton to push it with Vigour. It was intended to
send a Number of Troops to the head of our Bay to act against Maryland
and Pensylvania, and establish a place of Security for the Reception of
the loyal Subjects in those States. The reverse of Fortune to the
southward hath probably delayed the Execution of this place, and I hope
the Event of the Operations there and elsewhere will oblige the Enemy
totally to abandon it. It appears from Germain’s Letters that they
intended to fix a permanent post at Elizabeth River. Those Letters come
down to the 7th March.

The Length of this Letter will apologize for my Silence last Week, and for
my sending it in its present State. A necessary Attendance on the
Courts will oblige me to return on the first of next
month2 by which time I expect to see Mr.
Hanson here. I now intend to return on the first of September and
remain here until November, if before I leave the City I see any well
founded probability of receiving public Supplies. The Situation of many
of the Delegates here is truly disagreeable, my Stay hath not been so
long as to subject me to many difficulties yet, although I in some
degree depended on public funds. The Necessity of being obliged to have
Recourse to our friends has been the Lot of us all and it is
unnecessary to comment on so humiliating a State. Present my respectful
Compliments to Mrs Lee and believe me very sincerely,

Yours affely.

R. Potts

The State Agent hath just informed us that Tobacco is near at Hand
for our relief. The Reduction of the Post at Augusta is this Moment
officially announced to Congress3 – have not
time to transmit particulars. Nothing official from 96.


Receiver’s copy, Emmet Collection, New York Public Library.

1 See Daniel Carroll to Lee, this date, note 1; and the preceding entry.

2 For Potts’ departure for Maryland and his account of attendance, see Potts
to Samuel Hughes, July 24, 1781, note 2.

3 See Daniel Carroll to Lee, this date, note 3.